Blog: Chile with Concha y Toro - Day II
Olly Wehring | 21 January 2015
After yesterday's introduction to Chile, today was all about Concha y Toro – that's to be expected, seeing as they invited me here.
About 40 minutes out of Santiago, in the Maipo valley, we spent most of the day at Bodega Pirque. The winery, which is the birthplace of Concha y Toro, has been updated to welcome tour groups to look around the estate house and to visit the fabled Casillero del Diablo - the devil's cellar. We'll have more details on the facility for you tomorrow, so keep your eyes peeled.
After taking the tour, we headed to the homestead for a thorough tasting of CyT's portfolio – starting off with the Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc 2014 and Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – two wines my wife and I 'taste' at least a couple of times a month, specifically, when it's around 2130, we've finished our dinner but run out of wine and the nearest shop is just around the corner. Drinking these wines at the home of founder Don Melchor de Santiago Concha seemed a bit close to home, but we returned to the higher ground thanks to a round of Carmeneres, led by the Terrunyo brand.
Finally, as lunch approached, we had what was described as “the main course”: six parcels that comprise the 2014 vintage of Don Melchor, a GBP50 (US$75) per bottle blend that is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon. Don Melchor is downplayed as a CyT brand on the bottle's label, which suggests to me the company is all too aware of consumers' perceptions of its price positioning.
At lunch (outside on the homestead's porch in warm sunshine), I was lucky enough to sit next to Isabel Guilisasti, the head of CyT's fine wine division (and sister to company CEO Eduardo). What followed was a fascinating look at her attempts to pull the firm's super-premium offerings out from the shadow of Casillero del Diablo and CyT's battle to balance being the owner of a global brand and being a Chilean wine producer.
We then took a 15-minute drive to Almaviva, a joint-venture winery set up in the late-1990s by CyT and Baron Philippe de Rothschild. The highlight of our brief tour of the (much as I loathe the phrase) state-of the art winery, which has a breathtaking backdrop of the Andes, was a tasting that included the 1996 vintage. And, no, I didn't use the spit bucket. Nor did I leave any.
To round off the day, we're heading to CyT's offices back in Santiago, where I'm due to sit down with Sebastian Aguirre, marketing director for the company's premium wines. The fruits of these labours will run on just-drinks later this month.
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